At the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, researchers from the University of Hawaii showed off amazing new bubble microbots they created purely out of air.
The tiny bubbles are powered and directed within a saline solution by an infrared laser. The technique relies on heating the solution with the laser at the periphery of the bubble causing the liquid to want to flow away from the warm spot and propelling the bubble toward it.
The team demonstrated that live cells encapsulated within hydrogel blocks can be ferried around with great precision without doing them any harm. See for yourself in this video from University of Hawaii’s Microdevices & Microfluidics Lab.
More from IEEE Spectrum: Microbots Made of Bubbles Have Engines Made of Lasers…
(hat tip: Engadget)